The Best Secret Islands on Earth

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Ben Bowes

For white-sand beaches, salty breezes, freshly caught seafood, and no crowds, head to one of the world’s best secret islands.

Colombia: Islas de Rosario

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Cartagena may be the latest Latin American hot spot, but do yourself a favor and venture off the coast to the Islas de Rosario—a chain of 27 mostly uninhabited islands that are home to the country's largest coral reef. With their mangrove-dotted white-sand beaches, they're also known as paradise for in-the-know Colombians. Stay at the tropical-chic San Pedro de Majagua Hotel (57-5/664-6070; hotelmajagua.com; doubles from $290), on Isla Grande. There, you'll find 17 white-on-white rooms with nautical accents (wooden oars, stripped lamps) and panoramic Caribbean views, and a restaurant that serves regional dishes such as fresh-caught snapper, grilled whole and served with coconut rice. Of note: the hotel organizes snorkeling and diving excursions in 45 different locations where you can spot butterfly fish, stone bass, sea turtles, and about 1,300 other tropical species.

T+L Tip: Come nightfall, take a boat to the Enchanted Lagoon, on the other side of the island, to see thousands of luminescent plankton sparkling under the moon. —Stirling Kelso

The Best Secret Islands on Earth

Colombia: Islas de Rosario

Cartagena may be the latest Latin American hot spot, but do yourself a favor and venture off the coast to the Islas de Rosario—a chain of 27 mostly uninhabited islands that are home to the country's largest coral reef. With their mangrove-dotted white-sand beaches, they're also known as paradise for in-the-know Colombians. Stay at the tropical-chic San Pedro de Majagua Hotel (57-5/664-6070; hotelmajagua.com; doubles from $290), on Isla Grande. There, you'll find 17 white-on-white rooms with nautical accents (wooden oars, stripped lamps) and panoramic Caribbean views, and a restaurant that serves regional dishes such as fresh-caught snapper, grilled whole and served with coconut rice. Of note: the hotel organizes snorkeling and diving excursions in 45 different locations where you can spot butterfly fish, stone bass, sea turtles, and about 1,300 other tropical species.

T+L Tip: Come nightfall, take a boat to the Enchanted Lagoon, on the other side of the island, to see thousands of luminescent plankton sparkling under the moon. —Stirling Kelso

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